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SPH-IMDA partnership launches with video series InstaScram on Nov 25

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 - 18:43

AS any avid social media buff would know, Singapore has no lack of "Instagram-able" spots. And behind each spot is a story that offers a slice of Singapore's history - which will be unravelled in InstaScram, a series of fortnightly episodic videos, starting from Nov 25.

A play on the words "Instagram" and "scramblers", InstaScram has a simple enough premise. The team behind InstaScram scours Instagram for location ideas in Singapore and has presenter and producer Nessa Anwar, 26, explore those places on motorcycles, delivering the stories behind them.

"We try to find the social media pictures that are the most recent first of all, and we try as much as possible to pick ones by Singaporeans," Ms Nessa said. "It's really something else to see our fellow locals finding the beauty in everyday places, rather than tourists who take mostly generic shots."

The video series is the first in a range of 10 programmes - six in English and four in Mandarin - produced by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) in partnership with the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA). The inaugural partnership is part of a pilot Public Service Broadcast (PSB) initiative.

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Other anchor series include "AskST", a programme produced in conjunction with The Straits Times, and "Why It Matters", a Chinese-language animation series that explains major global issues and trends.

Each InstaScram episode will feature two unique locations based on two criteria: it has to be photogenic and full of history, culture and heritage. Even better if their stories are relatively unknown and can pique the curiosity of Singaporeans.

"It's about communities," Ms Nessa said of the 24-episode series. "We tapped the biker communities a lot in Singapore, but who knew the biker community had anything to do with the photography community in Singapore? InstaScram is that link."

She added that the series helps local communities get to know more about one another and share their love for Singapore - bringing out the "kampung spirit", so to speak.

"Some of these places, even I've never been to them or heard of them before we started doing InstaScram. Even my crew will admit sometimes that they've never been to these places, and I find - as the producer - a little pride in that, as we're learning more and more about Singapore and its different kinds of people, together," she said.

In the first episode, Ms Nessa will explore Everton Road and Little India. Each episode will have "its own flavour - from the visuals to the music to the mood".

To spice things up, some episodes will feature guest presenters like Zaihan the Biker Boy (from the column "The Biker Boy" in The New Paper), as well as different groups of motorbike enthusiasts such as Harley Riders and female riders.

"We insert different ways of shooting as well, like drone-flying, to suit each episode," Ms Nessa added.

Of course, capturing Ms Nessa riding a motorbike on film came with technical challenges. Lead videographer and video editor Isaac Netto, 26, shared: "Keeping shots in focus and stable while tracking Nessa on her motorcycle is no easy task. It requires a skilled driver, good navigator, and a cameraman who is not afraid to get in on the action. The weather is also going to be a killer moving into months like December. It is either scorching hot or pouring."

InstaScram is produced by ex-members of SPH Razor - Ms Nessa, Mr Netto, executive producer Jonathan Ng, an intern Caleb Tay; and second camera operator Mahmod Anis, who also drove the "chase car", as Mr Netto put it. All of them, except Mr Mahmod, currently make up The Business Times' in-house video team.

Mr Ng, who is now editor, BT Video, said: "Apart from our regular production of InstaScram, the BT video team is excited to increase the video content of The Business Times newsroom. We intend to focus on editorial and content marketing initiatives, which will give more depth to the stories on BT's digital platforms."

"With SPH Razor's recent silver award from Wan-Ifra's Asian Digital Media Awards 2016 for Canon's best Digital Advertising Campaign, we bring our expertise in video content marketing to the BT newsroom," he added. "This will give our partners and clients wider range of opportunities to engage our audience with video as a powerful storytelling tool."

InstaScram's first episode will launch on Friday, Nov 25, across various SPH digital platforms.

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